The “Mix Up” Suspender Skirt
I’ve been sewing for probably 15 or so years, since my mom taught me when I was quite young. I look back to the early days of my sewing adventures, and the garments I made were often baggy, shapeless, ill fitting and unflattering. (Whew, that’s a mouthful of insulting descriptions!) I wasn’t very good at choosing garments that would look good on me, and not very good at fitting said garments either. Fortunately with time and practice though, my sewing skills have improved. I like to think that my style has improved a bit too 😉 I still have so much to learn, but each time, I get a little bit more accomplished. One of the garments that I am the “proudest” to have been able to make is this suspender skirt.
I came across this illustration in a 1939 Sears catalogue. This group of skirts are called “Mix Up’s”, because of their ability to mix-and-match in your wardrobe. Interestingly “Mix-and-Match” separates weren’t really a marketed item until the Depression and War Years, although of course people always did mix and match. During those years where poverty turned into rationing and people didn’t have the money or the resources to make new outfits, mix and match separates were worn to help stretch the wardrobe. It is interesting that in this catalogue- that is the marketed feature of this skirt. (Also jealous to note the $1.98 price tag for a wool skirt- although in todays dollars that would be. . . only $34. . . ok never mind I am still jealous)
I love the suspender skirt in the centre, so I decided to try and make something like it. I didn’t have a pattern, I had never drafted a pattern from scratch before, and I only had a limited amount of fabric, as I had already used most of the twill for a pair of trousers, so it was a bit of a learning curve! I used an a-line skirt pattern I already had for the bottom, but I draped and drafted the vest/pinafore/suspenders. It took a few tries, and a lot of fiddly fitting, but fortunately I have my mother- master seamstress- to lend a hand when needed, and so it turned out! I omitted the laces in favour of a non-functioning button, and didn’t put buttons on the straps, instead placing them on the back of the skirt. The skirt is also made of brown denim twill rather than wool. So the skirt is “inspired by” rather than a direct copy of the illustration. I am afraid that I don’t have pictures of the process, and actually I don’t really know what I did aside from drawing a shape I liked and cutting out a test muslin, so I won’t be able to tell you how to do it yourself. 🙁 Your welcome.
It is one of my favourite skirts however, and has become, like the advertisement said, a great “Mix Up” item in my wardrobe, as it goes with almost every top I own.
Excuse the excessive amount of crumpling in the photos. 🙁
Wearing a bow on your head makes your day just that much better, don’t you think? Just look at how happy I am in this photo.
A note about these shoes. I bought these two years ago, and they quickly became one of my favourite pairs. Then while wearing them last year, when I was riding my bicycle, I crashed. I skinned my knee, I scraped my bicycle, and I did not cry. But I ripped the leather off the toe of these shoes- and that made me want to cry! I wasn’t sure if anything could be done, since there was a spot about the size of a nickel scuffed out of the leather, but I took them to my local cobbler and they came back like this! You can’t even see in this picture where the leather was damaged! So, the moral of the story? Take your shoes to the cobbler as they can work magic. Oh, and perhaps don’t wear your favourite heels while cycling, in the event of accidentally destroying them.
May 1, 2016 @ 3:34 am
Off-the-charts love for this immensely charming, classic ensemble. It took my suspender skirt adoring breath away and looks all kinds of awesome on you, sweet lady.
Joyful start of May wishes,
May 1, 2016 @ 3:45 pm
Aww thanks- you are the sweetest!
May 10, 2017 @ 2:35 am
My cobbler is a person I can’t live without! He has saved, so many of my vintage bags and shoes.
I adore this dress, it’s beautiful.
May 11, 2017 @ 12:32 pm
Thanks! And, yes, it is amazing what a cobbler can do! And often for not too much money either.